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Complaint against VicPD to be handled by investigators from Surrey, Delta

The Delta and Surrey police departments have confirmed they will conduct a review following a complaint brought by former board member Paul Schachter.

The Delta Police Department and Surrey Police Service have agreed to review the Victoria Police Department’s handling of an investigation that led to charges being stayed against three men.

Paul Faoro, chair of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board’s governance committee, told the board Tuesday evening both departments have confirmed they will conduct a review following a complaint brought by former board member Paul Schachter.

“I can’t emphasize that enough. This is a serious, serious issue,” said Faoro. He said the committee decided to bring in outside investigators to take on the job to ensure transparency.

“I am confident that those investigations will be looked at thoroughly and we’ll be able to positively resolve this policy complaint,” he told the board.

Schachter’s complaint included six points of concern. Four of the concerns will be reviewed by the Delta Police Department, as they are related to an ongoing Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner investigation Delta police are already leading. The two others will be reviewed by Surrey.

Faoro said they do not expect results of the review to be known until the early fall.

Schachter told the police board via video link that policing in Victoria is facing a crisis of integrity.

In an email to the Times Colonist Wednesday, Schachter said the most important factor is who is in charge of the investigation.

“I have no issue with Surrey or Delta PDs being involved in gathering the needed information, as long as the overall direction is from and the report is to an impartial and unbiased lead,” he wrote. “It appears that the [board] is confused as to how the investigation will actually proceed. I am willing to accept that they are acting in good faith and will clear up this confusion.”

Schachter said he had been told by the board last week that Victoria Police Chief Del Manak was going to be responsible for the investigation.

“I believe it is an irreconcilable conflict for the VicPD chief constable to be involved in the process of the investigation of the conduct of his department, except to provide information as a witness,” Schachter said. “In the meantime, I have asked the OPCC to step in to recommend that the police board and not the police chief have control of the investigation.”

Police board co-chair Barb Desjardins said Delta and Surrey will report back to the board, which will send a copy of the reports to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, the complainant Paul Schachter and the director of police services.

The board may also choose to make the review public at that time.

In his complaint, Schachter, a lawyer and a former director on the Victoria Esquimalt Police Board, said the VicPD should be investigated for how it may have contributed to the ­collapse of a major drug ­prosecution.

Charges were stayed against three men in a ­fentanyl-trafficking case involving $30 million in seized evidence after a judge found that Victoria police allowed an officer under investigation by the RCMP’s anti-corruption unit to be involved in the case, then tried to hide the situation from the courts.

In a statement, Desjardins said integrity and accountability are key values of the Victoria Police Department and it’s important that the board has input from the citizens of Victoria and Esquimalt in governance of the department.

“As a board we have confidence in the policies, training and leadership within our department, which we pay very close attention to, but we have a responsibility to listen and respond to concerns from our communities.”

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